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The current six-month stopgap funding bill (PL 112-175) expires on March 27, when Congress is scheduled to be on Easter recess. Rogers’ measure would combine a continuing resolution for most federal agencies, and new fiscal 2013 Defense and Military Construction-VA bills. That move would, in effect, allow military and veterans’ programs a chance to soften the effect of the sequester by giving them greater flexibility to manage spending.
Rogers said he spoke with Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., on Wednesday afternoon, as well as with Rep. Nita M. Lowey of New York, his Democratic counterpart on the House Appropriations panel. He said they are open to the defense portion of the bill, but he stopped short of saying they have pledged their support.
“I think we’ve got a bill that can pass both bodies,” he said. “We’ve got to keep it fair and noncontroversial, and I think it is a fair non-political funding of the government.”
Mikulski has said publicly that she might add more spending bills to Rogers’ fiscal 2013 measure, giving other agencies some flexibility. She could also seek to package it with a measure providing alternatives to the sequester.
Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., said he wants to be certain that the final fiscal 2013 spending bill cannot be changed to undo the sequester’s cuts altogether. He said he will need to see the Rogers bill, which might be released as early as March 4, and then calculate whether there could be some changes to it in time that would erase the sequester’s cuts.
“My objective is to ensure that the overall sequester levels hold,” McClintock said. “I need to be certain that that is the effect of this legislation, and I have not yet pulled it apart to see what makes it work.”